TECHO’s experiential slum shocks New Yorkers



Cheap studio apartments in the heart of New York City don’t crop up very often. When they do appear, they tend to attract a lot of attention.

A very special Manhattan apartment recently generated huge amounts of buzz. And not in the way that you would expect.


Unsuspecting apartment hunters received quite a shock when viewing one particular property in Manhattan’s Union Square.

Welcomed by dirty drapes acting as doors, filthy floors and an assortment of cramped scrap furniture, it soon became clear that this wasn’t an ordinary apartment. Viewers looked around in shock to see next to nothing separating the kitchen from the open bathroom space, while the realtor praised the apartment’s many benefits!

Unquestionably a property with a difference, the ‘cheap studio apartment’ was actually a pop up slum delivered by Latin American based charity TECHO.

The aim was to raise awareness of the terrible conditions and poor hygiene that millions of people around the world endure on a daily basis – and TECHO certainly didn’t hold back in this experiential stunt.


The prospective tenants, of course, were none the wiser, and their initial reactions to the dwelling were all caught on camera as they are shown around by a TECHO representative posing as a property professional. The shock of the experience was considerable for many of the viewers, with one even stating that “it looks like an illegal living situation.”

Take a look at the unexpected conditions viewers were faced with in the vibrant city of New York:

Eventually, Jasmine the ‘realtor’ revealed why these people were stood in an apartment-turned-slum, explaining that this is everyday life for many and describing the work that TECHO is doing to tackle these issues.

The experiential stunt provided a stark contrast to modern city living, bringing home the message that a considerable poverty divide exists around the world.

Similar to the Organ Donor’s Foundation‘s Reborn To Be Alive campaign, TECHO demonstrated through this activation that bringing the public face to face with a problem can be both uncomfortable and extremely powerful.

Author bio


With nearly 30 years of marketing experience, both client and agency side, I’ve acquired a rare perspective on brands and business: I believe you have to challenge things creatively if you want to grow sales. Consumer technology is reshaping our world, and it’s only the great brands that stay on the crest.